I enjoyed your baseball issue (April 18) because, as an Oriole fan, I liked your prediction of a Baltimore pennant. However, the last four paragraphs of your article on the Birds were very misleading. You base your charge of Baltimore's poor attendance on a single day, Sept. 20, 1964. On that particular day the Orioles were playing a doubleheader at home against the Angels, who weren't even in the first division at the time. On the same day the Colts were on TV playing the Packers in Green Bay. Now, who can blame the people for staying home? After all, do the Yankees draw huge crowds when the Giants are on TV?
I might point out to you that the Orioles drew over 75,000 fans for a recent three-game series with the Yankees, who have about as much of a chance of winning the pennant this year as Bobby Kennedy has of being elected governor of Alabama.
As for Mark Russell's ditty, I thought that was about as funny as a case of cancer.
To condemn Baltimore as a bad sports city by citing the poor attendance on one Sunday is to overlook the fact that the season total for that year was 1,116,215. Counting the past three years Baltimore averages fourth among American League cities in attendance despite a history of weak hitting and an absence of crowd thrills. Sunday has never been a big attendance day at the unprotected sauna known as Memorial Stadium, but our Friday night figures will match Sunday crowds elsewhere.
May 1, 1966
Oriole attendance is admittedly poor. However, I fail to see what place this has in your scouting report of American League baseball teams. The New York Mets have tremendous fan support, and they're still lousy. But the question is: why do you consider a song that describes a city as dotted with strip joints, possessing a bad smelling harbor, and desirous of having a striptease artist for mayor as a necessary part of your baseball analysis?
Washington Comedian Mark Russell, who put the parody needle in Baltimore, did an even sharper job on Houston's Astrodome when he headlined here last summer:
Oh, give me a home, a 50,000-seat dome,
And a Clear Lake where they race for space.
A place if you're sick, you can get fixed up quick,
And a ball team in ninth or 10th place.
MRS. JANE NEWKIRK
Hats off to Herman Weiskopf—the only one of you sensible enough to pick the Tigers for first!
Sol—id! Your article about the Philadelphia Phillies was "Holy Believable." We know it, and Mr. Leggett let the world know it.
L. E. VERBIT
For your information the San Francisco Giants are going to win the National League pennant this year.
ROY EDWARD WOLFE
Your first two articles in the Clay series are excellent (A Case of Conscience, April 11, et seq.). I am sure that the remaining three will be the same. But then, I may be prejudiced. In a sport once known for color and dramatic flair, Cassius Clay is the first modern champion to revive that spirit both in and out of the ring. The incredible sacrifices and talent alone that go into being merely a good professional boxer make Cassius' dramatics justifiable.
DAVID H. PEARLMAN
Jack Olsen is doing a fine job of telling the American Legion and everyone else, for that matter, why Cassius Clay isn't the model of the great American Dream. His story would fit fine in a sociology textbook, but in a sports publication it has no place.
Cassius talks too much. So what? Cassius is against the draft. I believe in freedom of speech. Cassius is a Muslim. It's his religion. What I'm trying to get at is that his religion, politics or background should have nothing to do with our judgment of him as an athlete. Save his private life for the social workers.
There is only one measure of a sportsman—ability. Cassius Clay is the best boxer I have ever seen. Let's treat him like the sports champion he is. He is young, and he is brash, but how he can box! This should be your concern.
ALAN F. TEST
South Pasadena, Calif.
Everyone seems to be jumping on the "I hate Clay" bandwagon, and your Jack Olsen goes along on this ride. Olsen says Clay's oversyllabilization of whites' names is mock pomposity. Maybe it's his manner of speech. Many people do it—I, for one. You say he doesn't take white people into his emotional life. Do whites take Negroes into their emotional life? I think there is a grave injustice being done to Cassius Clay. He hurts boxing no more than a cheese champ like Patterson. People should get off this bandwagon.
AL TAMBERELLI JR.
Dan Jenkins' great article, It Was Fun Time in the Thirties (April 4), really brought back memories for me, especially when he mentioned Titanic Thompson, the best hustler of all time. I lived in Parsons, Kans., and I started playing golf when I was 10. A pro named Tommy Manley cut down some clubs for me, and I shagged balls for him while he gave lessons. In between lessons he would show me how it was done. When I was 13 I won the Parsons Katy Championship and was able to play the course in par. By the time I was 14 or 15 I thought I could beat anyone. Well, one hot July day in 1931 I was hanging around the clubhouse, and a long black car drove up. Four or five guys got out, and one of them asked the pro if he could get a game for some money. I noticed that the golf clubs were left-handed, and I thought I could beat anyone who was left-handed.
Well, I played Titanic one game and won $20 from him. The next day he set up another game and challenged all the local golf players. I caddied for him that day, and he cleaned out all of them—all but one named Al Norton, a pretty good hustler himself. Titanic could split the middle of a fairway with every drive and was an excellent putter. He played just well enough to win and would bet on every shot, if you wanted to bet. All this leads up to the time Titanic was ready to leave Parsons. He wanted me to go to Bartlesville, Okla. and get a job caddying at the country club. He said he would be down in about a week and pick me for his caddie, and then we would clean up on them all. Well, my dad wouldn't let me go, but to this day I wish I had gone. Titanic did go there, and I guess that's another story. He wasn't welcome to come back, as I hear it.
It was Fun Time in 1930, all right. I remember hitchhiking 70 miles to Joplin, Mo. just to watch Horton Smith put on a demonstration. It was also Fun Time in 1932 when I went to the Tri-state Golf Tournament in Joplin with $10 and a change of clothes. I lost the first-round match to a good putter from Columbus, Kans. and, I remember, I cried. I had played my best and lost. The next day as I was loafing around the club-house a guy asked if I would like to play a game as his partner against a writer and a promising young pro. I was sure glad to get to play that day, and when I missed a short birdie on the 4th hole my partner said, "Look them over, we are playing for ten-ten-ten." I thought this was cents but it was dollars and I didn't have $5 on me. Well, my partner sure laughed at me as I shot the eyes out of the course. I think I was six under par, and we won easy. But my partner was Ky Laffoon, and he knew we would win. I remember having all my 30 bucks in one-dollar bills. I rolled them up like Titanic did—only his roll was 20s. When I got home and peeled off $10 to my dad (the amount he gave me to start out with) I had plenty left.
Now I am 50 and still play once a week (with a 5 handicap), and I have a son who is 17 and a 3-handicap player and, you know, he is left-handed, like Titanic Thompson.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
I just got so much genuine joy out of Dan Jenkins' article that I couldn't resist writing. It was all so vivid. Many, many years ago I caddied for Al Watrous when he came to Ashland, Ohio to play a match with the local pro and the trick-shot artist, Joe Kirkwood. Kirkwood would do fabulous things, like shooting a ball off a pocket watch; but he could never seem to win a tournament. He traveled a lot with Hagen.
These guys you write of—I remember them all. Dutch Harrison always fascinated me; and this guy is still going. He had, and probably still has, about as big a loop in his swing as a golfer could have but, boy, he finished smooth as silk. And he always entertained that gallery all the way.
One that you didn't mention was Middlecoff Such a fusser and a wiggler I never saw, but when the instant came to swing that club I never have seen such a transformation. All this jittery business would suddenly dissolve into a swing just about as liquid and beautiful as Sam Snead's.
I could go on here for hours, but I just wanted you to know I enjoyed your article.